Posted by: Phil Anderson | January 6, 2013

What is it like to be God?

One of the things I like most about writing fiction is having control. I create the characters and decide what they look like and how they behave. I create the world they live in, choose the time period, and design the geography. And I know everything that has happened or will happen to them there. When I write fiction, I am god.

I don’t mean that to be sacrilegious or blasphemous. The first phrase in the first verse in the first chapter in the Bible says “In the beginning God created…” and later in that first chapter, after God has made the world and everything in it, he says to himself, “Let us make man in our image.” So God is creative, and he created us to be like him.

Of course I recognize the differences between God’s creation and mine. My characters don’t have free will. I don’t have the ability to keep track of seven billion characters and their intersecting lives. My creation is fantasy, while God’s is reality. But despite those and many other flaws in this comparison, there are still things to be learned from it.

If I had a character who was introverted and shy, and I needed him to make a rousing speech to a large group at the climax of my story, I could just make that happen because I’m writing the story and I’m in control. But it doesn’t make for a believable story, and anyone who reads it will see that he is acting out-of-character. To make the scene more credible, I need to develop that character over the course of the story by introducing circumstances and encounters that will develop him into the character he needs to be at that climactic moment. And I believe that God, in a similar way, puts people and circumstances into our lives to help us develop into the people we are going to be.

The biggest question I’ve heard from people who don’t believe in God, or don’t trust him, is how he could allow so much sadness, grief, and tragedy in the world. I couldn’t begin to understand or explain God’s purpose for hurricanes and other natural disasters or incidents like the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. But I do know, from time spent both reading and writing, that character growth is best achieved through difficult circumstances. A character who is happy and contented has little impetus for change and growth.

So I create circumstances and supporting characters, both good and bad, to develop a character from who he was to who he will be. I empathize with my characters, so I can describe their emotions and reactions. But I also enjoy challenging them with devastating setbacks, because I know the purpose of those difficulties and the ultimate end they will achieve.

When I look back at hard times in my own life I can see the effect they’ve had in shaping me into the person I am today, and I can face new trials with anticipation knowing that God has a purpose for the things he allows to come my way.

And when I need a little control, I can go to a world of my own creation, where I am the all-powerful, sovereign creator (at least until my editor gets involved).


  1. This is fantastic. A really great reminder that I needed. Thanks for posting!

    • Thanks for the comment. I’m glad you were encouraged.

  2. This is really interesting, You are a very skilled blogger. I’ve joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your magnificent post. Also, I have shared your site in my social networks!

    • Thanks for the compliments and thanks for spreading the word about my blog. I hope you continue to enjoy it.

  3. […] I wrote in an earlier blog post, being a fiction writer is a lot like being God. I have sovereign control over the settings, […]

  4. […] Similar to writing, animation reminds of the work that God does. Everything we see (and don’t see) is his creation, and everything that happens is under his control. The laws of physics were written by him and he invented color and light. Nothing exists or occurs by accident. I imagine that God enjoys seeing the world and the creatures he’s made, and enjoys watching us act out the story that he has carefully designed for each of us. […]

  5. […] while back I wrote a post on what it’s like to be God. As a writer of fiction, I create characters and the world they live in, and I have sovereign […]

  6. […] a writer trying to create compelling characters, I can look to the example of the Ultimate Creator. In the Biblical story of Moses and the Exodus from Egypt, the Pharaoh is a fascinating antagonist […]

  7. […] I wrote in previous posts, I think that being a fiction writer is like being God. I create worlds and the people in them, and I control what happens there. But once I’ve […]

  8. […] I write frequently about the similarities between being a writer and being God, it only makes sense that God’s Word is one of my major influences. Let me be clear that I […]

  9. […] religion), I thought about my characters and how they relate to me as their “god” (see What It’s Like to Be God and What It’s Not Like). I don’t want to be worshiped by my characters, and they […]

  10. […] I consider Christ’s incarnation in light of my own writing and my analogy of God as an author, I wonder how it would work to write a story with myself as a character. Not a character that […]

  11. […] I write, I’m the god of my own little world. I like to keep secrets from my characters and my readers, and generally it’s for dramatic […]

  12. […] been a while since I’ve expounded on my analogy that being a writer is like being God, but I haven’t forgotten about it. In fact, the analogy changes and expands all the time as I […]

  13. […] written before that being a writer is like being God. I can create a world and the characters who live there, and […]

  14. […] the same way, each of us as a character in God’s story encounter difficulties and tests that, if we persevere, will make us into the person he wants us […]

  15. […] What is it Like to be God? […]

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